School district business is our expertise. With more than 30 attorneys dedicated to advising public agencies on the complex array of issues encountered while conducting their operations, Lozano Smith is prepared to share our knowledge gained in preparing thousands of contracts and helping school districts build hundreds of facilities. The business of schools is vast - from daily vendor contracts, to budgeting and revenue generation, our attorneys routinely advise on and advocate for school districts. Equally, Lozano Smith provides counsel and support on all aspects of real property and facilities issues. When a novel issue presents itself, we work closely with our clients to develop creative, efficient and effective solutions. And, if a contract is challenged or a construction project goes awry, our litigation team has a proven track record of success.

Lozano Smith Facilities and Business Practice Group specializes in:

Business

  • Budgeting Issues, Funding Disputes & Audit Appeals
  • Procurement of Supplies and Services
  • Contract Development and Review
  • Energy Issues
  • Public Finance including Bond Counsel Services
  • Technology Procurement and Contracting

Facilities

  • Bidding, Bid Challenges and Alternative Project Delivery
  • Selecting and Contracting with Construction Professionals
  • Construction Contract Development and Administration
  • Prevailing Wage and Project Labor Agreements
  • Construction Litigation
  • California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) Compliance
  • Developer Fees and School Facilities Mitigation
  • Prop. 39 Procurement and Contracting
  • Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)
  • State Funding and the School Facilities Program
  • Joint Facilities Use

Real Property

  • Land Acquisition - Purchase and Exchange
  • Due Diligence Issues including CDE Approval and Resolution of Title Exceptions
  • Eminent Domain
  • Land Use and Zoning Issues
  • Leases, Easements and Other Property Interests
  • Charter School Facilities and Prop. 39 Offers
  • Surplus Property Disposition
Sacramento, San Diego dmaruccia@lozanosmith.com
Fresno, Sacramento, Bakersfield jbehrens@lozanosmith.com
Matthew R. Hicks Senior Counsel
Patrick A. Gunn Attorney at Law
Walnut Creek, Sacramento pgunn@lozanosmith.com
Los Angeles, Bakersfield tsims@lozanosmith.com
Los Angeles, Mission Viejo wcurley@lozanosmith.com

Lawmakers Extend Deadline for Proposition 39 Energy Efficiency Funding and Create New Program

By:Devon Lincoln -

July 2017 Number 42 State lawmakers have extended the deadlines to apply for and encumber money dedicated to energy efficiency projects at schools and community colleges - the program known as Proposition 39 - and have created a new program to fund such projects indefinitely. Proposition 39 was scheduled to sunset June 30, 2018. Now, Senate Bill (SB) 110 has extended the deadline for encumbering Proposition 39 funds by one year, to June 30, 2019. At the same time, the bill creates the ...

California Travel Ban Does Not Apply to Local Agencies

By:Thomas Gauthier, Stephanie White -

July 2017 Number 41 A California law that bars state agencies from funding travel, and from requiring employees to travel, to states that permit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression - and Attorney General Xavier Becerra's recent expansion of the list of states covered by the ban - have raised questions regarding whether the law applies to cities, counties, school districts and community college districts. While there is no definitive l...

State's Top Court Rules that Contractors Can be Prosecuted for Conflict of Interest

By:Harold Freiman, Iain MacMillan -

July 2017 Number 40 The California Supreme Court has ruled that an independent contractor can be criminally liable for a conflict of interest under California Government Code section 1090, expanding the universe of penalties a contractor can face for violating the statute and reversing a prior appellate court ruling that exempted contractors from criminal liability for such conflicts. The Court's decision in People v. Superior Court (Sahlolbei) (June 26, 2017, No. S232639) ___ Cal.5th ...

Public Agencies No Longer Required to Contract with DIR Registered Contractors for Small Projects

By:Anne Collins, Nicholas Clair -

July 2017 Number 38 Senate Bill (SB) 96, passed this June as part of the California state budget, contains provisions designed to encourage more contractors to participate on small public works projects. Public works projects under $25,000 and maintenance projects under $15,000 are now exempt from the requirements of the Department of Industrial Relations (DIR) registration program. The new law also permits contractors to register for up to three years in advance and imposes new penalt...

Appellate Court Orders Publication of Lease-Leaseback Decision, Making it Binding Precedent

By:Harold Freiman, Travis Cochran -

June 2017 Number 32 On May 31, 2017, the First District Court of Appeal ordered publication of its decision in California Taxpayers Action Network v. Taber Construction, Inc. et al.(2017) 12 Cal.App.5th 115 (Taber), which upholds the validity of a lease-leaseback arrangement. This reversed the court's initial decision not to publish the case. Publication of the Taber decision means that it serves as citable precedent upon which school districts and others may now rely. In Taber, the Co...

Public Entities Must Proceed with Caution When Preparing an Addendum to a Negative Declaration

By:Anne Collins, Shawn VanWagenen -

June 2017 Number 31 A California appellate court has held that a public entity violated the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) by preparing an addendum to a mitigated negative declaration. In Friends of the College of San Mateo Gardens v. San Mateo County Community College District (2017) 11 Cal.App.5th 596, the court found that proposed changes to the District's original facilities project might have a significant effect on the environment, requiring further analysis, rather tha...

Federal Court Upholds Texas School Board’s Practice of Student Invocations at School Board Meetings

By:Sloan Simmons, Kyle Raney -

June 2017 Number 29 A federal appeals court recently upheld a Texas school district's practice of permitting students to deliver a religious invocation at the beginning of governing board meetings. ( American Humanist Association et al v. Birdville Independent School District et al (5th Cir. 2017, Nos. 15-11067, 16-11220) ___ F.3d ___ (Birdville). While noteworthy, the opinion is not binding on public agencies in California, where a separate ruling on religious invocations at governing bo...

Representative Cases

Lozano Smith was part of the team representing Los Angeles Unified School District in Williams v. State of California, a massive statewide class action involving alleged conditions in public schools including alleged inequalities in school facilities, instructional materials and teachers, particularly at underperforming schools that were already the subject of various state and federal categorical programs.
Clovis Unified School District v. Chiang (2010) 188 Cal.App.4th 794. Assisted eleven school districts with invalidating audits of several state mandated cost reimbursement claims worth more than $30 million, based upon the use of invalid, underground auditing documentation rule by the State Controller’s Office. The firm was later able to receive an award of $240,000 from the superior court for fees and costs incurred in the litigation efforts, largely offsetting the school districts’ legal costs in the case.
Oak Grove Elementary School District v. George W. Putris, as Tax Collector for the County of Santa Clara, Santa Clara County Superior Court Case No. 114CV261473. Represented the District in a complex matter related to a parcel tax authorized by the District's Board and approved by voters in 1991. The District returned to the voters every four years to re-obtain approval to increase the appropriations limit to spend tax revenues, but uncertainty loomed in 2014 regarding whether the District still had authority to collect taxes in 2014 after not needing to increase the annual appropriations limit that same year. The County Tax Collector was unclear whether it still had the authority to collect the taxes, therefore leading to Lozano Smith filing a lawsuit on behalf of the District seeking a peremptory writ of mandate commanding the County Tax Collector to collect parcel taxes. The lawsuit resulted in a stipulated judgment issuing a peremptory writ of mandate commanding the Tax Collector to collect the parcel tax.
Morgan Hill Unified School District v. Minter & Fahy Construction Company, Inc. et al., Santa Clara County Superior Court, Case No. CV772368 (2002-2003). As part of a three week jury trial, successfully represented the school district against contractor and pipe manufacturer arising from underground fuel storage tank that leaked, and obtained judgment in excess of $2 million including interest and attorney’s fees. *Case handled by a current Lozano Smith attorney prior to their employment at Lozano Smith.
Modtech Holdings v. Pajaro Valley Unified School District. On two separate elementary school projects totaling $4 million, the District withheld substantial sums to cover damages caused the contractor. One project under the control of the contractor had a fire, with the contractor refusing to compensate the District. The other project suffered construction deficiencies in the stucco and roof. The contractor sued for improper withholding and the District cross-complained for additional damages, resulting in a $1 million dispute. After discovery and expert investigation revealed additional claims for the District, the case resolved very favorably for the District a few months short of trial.
R. Baker, Inc. v. Coast Unified School District. A school district was subject to multi-million dollar design, delay and defect claims related to construction of a new elementary school located in the Coastal Zone. The project also suffered from an inadequate Storm Water Pollution Prevention Plan (SWPPP), thus causing the school district to be fined in excess of $300,000. The litigation settled favorably for the District at mediation.
Mountain Cascade v. Santa Clara Valley Water District. The District entered a contract with the plaintiff to install a recycled water pipeline. As part of the original plans and specifications, the contract also called for the additional installation of fiber optic conduits. However, after award the District deleted the fiber optic work from the project since the bid on that line item was excessive. The District then added back a small portion of the fiber optic work that was within the budget. The contractor sued the District for lost profits based on the deleted work. Our attorney won summary judgment for the District based on the broad right to add and delete work, and successfully defended the decision on appeal.
Pajaro Valley USD v. Westchester Surplus Lines Insurance Co., et al. Due to a combination of construction and architectural roof design defects, a new district school was infected with mold throughout its buildings. Lozano Smith attorneys successfully represented the school district in recovering in excess of $3 million for remedial efforts and new construction from litigation prosecuted against the general contractor, architect, and insurer on the district insurance risk policy.
Teichert Construction v. City of Stockton, et al. During a $15 million dual grade separation project, the contractor and one of its subcontractors submitted claims of more than $3 million based on delay. Despite many issues of delay caused by utilities and railroad companies, the case settled favorably at pre-discovery mediation for under $1 million despite a significant number of delay days for which the City had to take responsibility.
Anderson Union High School District v. Shasta Secondary Home School (2016) 4 Cal.App.5th 262. Lozano Smith successfully argued, in a case of first impression, that the geographic and site limitations of the Charter Schools Act (Ed. Code, § 47600 et seq.) are applicable to all charter schools, including “nonclassroom-based” programs.